Category Archives: Inspirational

Soft Pastels – Norwegian Style


The Boynton Chapel, Bjorklunden, Baileys Harbor, WI.

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 A fissured rock

the perfect tree

she built a home

to honor Thee

 

You spoke to her

You speak to me

in drenching wind

and unsalted sea

 

The feathered pine

and wizened tree

the slumbering ore

call out to me

 

In land of rock

and birch and sea

she built a church

to honor Thee

 

Interior of Boynton Chapel.  All paintings and carvings done by Winifred and Donald Boynton.

Interior of Boynton Chapel. All paintings and carvings done by Winifred and Donald Boynton.

Front of the chapel.  Even the pulpit was hand carved.

Front of the chapel. Even the pulpit was hand carved.

A Norwegian stavkirke - a stave church.

A Norwegian stavkirke – a stave church.

 

For more entries in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Soft Pastels, click here.

 

Sue The Explorer With Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Fire or Season of Summer


Welcome to another addition of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge!  This week the theme is “Fire or Season of Summer”.

At first, I didn’t think I had too many photos for this, but after going thru my library, I actually had too many!  In fact, I still probably have too many….but I am horrible at cutting a potential prospect, because there is a story behind every photo, and you all know how I like to talk.

My first photo is from about 5 years ago, when I first got my new camera.  Which is now an “old” camera…  Anyway, it’s 10 mega pixels or something like that – a huge step up from the 3.4mp Sony I was using.  I will say one thing about that Sony – it was built like a tank.  I lost is twice in the same day one weekend when we were in Rockford IL for the Midwest BMX Nationals and got it back (twice) in good working order with only a few dents and dings after it had been run over by a car and kicked by countless teenagers in bike shoes.  (I am fully aware that I am one of the few people who could lose the same camera twice in the same day.  It’s a gift.)

My “new” camera, incidentally, is a Canon Powershot, and has never been lost.  The irony of losing the other one is that I had often berated my children about the danger to their lives if they ever lost my camera.  Yeah.  I’m that mom.

Okay, on to the photo.  I was out playing in the neighborhood with my new toy, at night mind you so the neighbors were probably scared until they saw it was just the neighborhood weirdo stalking among their flagpoles.  You can’t get much more summer than Old Glory and the 4th of July.

Old Glory

Old Glory

I grew up loving horses and read pretty much every book available about them as a kid.  The Black Stallion was my favorite.  I spent many a night daydreaming about riding The Black.

The photo below was taken at the graduation party of one of my relatives.  Now, we will see if they read my blog and recognize him.  Or her.  I’m not entirely sure.  But who cares?  Pony!

 

Pony!!!

Pony!!!

When I was a kid, my best friend used to say “It’s hotter than blue blazes!” in the summer.  The picture below, while not blue, certainly looks like it’s that hot.  Definitely fiery.

Hotter than blue blazes.

Here comes the sun!

Ah, kayaking!  Doubt we will get out there this year, as we are still trying to figure out where to keep the kayaks now that we moved, so I have to live vicariously thru my own photos.

Wish I was doing this right now!

Wish I was doing this right now!

This next photo is one of my favorite places to be:  Neshota Beach in Two Rivers, on Lake Michigan.  People often fly kites there, as well as the usual beach activities.  Personally, I like to lay on my blanket in a comatose state, with a jar of peanuts, a bottle of Spotted Cow beer, and a trashy novel.  High class, all the way.

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The photo below is from a different kind of beach.  This is Schoolhouse Beach on Washington Island in Door County, WI.  It is a rare smooth stone beach and it’s illegal to remove any of the stones.  And I did NOT remove any.  Nope. Nope. Nope.

Schoolhouse Beach, Washington Island

Schoolhouse Beach, Washington Island

Last summer, The Daver and I vacationed in the Badlands and Blackhills in South Dakota.  Awesome trip, and so beautiful.  One of my favorite shots.

Summer in the Badlands

Summer in the Badlands

The following is my obligatory summer dock photo.  Taken from a small public landing on a small lake near the small town of Brillion, WI, of which I don’t remember the name, because I’m old.  Another fabulous cycling find.

IMG_0571My final photo was taken just a few days ago, on another bike ride.  I saw the sun going down thru the branches and hopped off my bike and ran in some guys yard to snap this.  New neighbors are going to have to get used the me.

Sun going down over the Bay

Sun going down over the Bay

And that’s it folks!

Oh, and the picture of the horse reminded me of a story I need to tell you someday about the time I used to own a horse.  High in entertainment value and my usual dumb assery.  But you’re going to have to wait.  🙂

Sue
PS: Don’t forget to visit Cee and check out her photos, as well as those posted by the other folks. Really some talented people out there – way more talented than me! You can find her site by clicking here: Cee’s Photography

 

 

Sue the Explorer With Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Wood and Spring


I’m taking a break from my usual fare this week, because I recently started following a blog called Cee’s Photography, and she runs photo challenges every week.  She has beautiful photos and they make me smile, so I thought I would share with you because you can never have too many smiles in a day.

I decided to participate in her Elements/Seasons series – as you all know I am a nature freak.  So, without further ado, here is my entry for Wood/Spring.

First up – photos from one of my most favorite places in all the land!  Bjorklunden (Lawrence University) in Door County.  Love, love, love that place, and for a while went every year with my sister for a ladies weekend.  I missed the last two years, a knife in my spiritual heart – I have been able to reach out to God so easily in this place.

Spring dew on lakeside branches.

Spring dew on lakeside branches.

God calling in the mist.

God calling in the mist.

This next picture was taken down by the Fox River, close to the locks.  I was actually trying to get shots of the pelicans, and happened across this bright bit of life starting it’s journey.

Life finds a way.

Life finds a way.

These yellow blooms were in my front landscaping at our old house.  Absolutely no clue what they are.  Tiny blooms in very fine leaves.  I just liked them because they are my favorite color!  Yellooooowwww!

Yellow somethings?

Yellow somethings?

Here’s something weird about me you probably didn’t know.  I love old cemeteries.  I like to read the stones and shut my eyes and imagine them as they lived, worked, and played.  When I was a kid, cemeteries creeped me out and I used to hold my breath whenever we drove past one.  Part of an old wives tail I think?  Like lifting your feet up when driving over railroad tracks.  Geez – I don’t even remember what that one was for – just remember doing it.

This cemetery in Salem, MA was especially cool because it had people in it from the Salem Witch Trials.  Interesting thing about these old tombstones is that they looked fake because they were so thin. I had to touch them to be sure they were real.  And plus, like the big kid I am, I just can’t not touch.

Salem cemetery, Salem, MA

Salem cemetery, Salem, MA

Salem cemetery, Salem, MA

Salem cemetery, Salem, MA

This next photo was taken while kayaking with the Daver on the chain of lakes in Waupaca.  There is a series of small, shallow lakes on the tail end of the chain perfect for kayaking.  I managed to not only stay in the boat, but didn’t drop my camera or phone in the drink.  I have mad kayaking skills.

Waupaca County, WI

Waupaca County, WI

We found this face of tree roots on our walk to a waterfall in the Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, TN.  It had just rained, so it was a slippery, muddy hike.  But totally worth it – so much natural eye candy!

Old Man

Old Man

I just really liked how all my pots looked last year, waiting for me to fill them with new life.  This year, many stand empty yet, as we have been too busy trying to get a driveway, deck, etc.  Next year, they will all be filled again, though!

Time to plant!

Time to plant!

Last spring, I road in the Menominee River Century – we did 50 miles.  On a short breather after a hill climb, I hopped off my bike and ran in the woods to grab this shot.  Did I ever mention how much I love riding?  Scenes like this play a big part in that love.

Pine trees in Menominee

Pine trees in Menominee

I know I recently shared this one, but it’s so pretty, I had to include it.  Taken on the trail thru a local bird sanctuary – it’s basically wetlands.  I was covered in chemicals or I would have been eaten alive by the velociraptors…er…mosquitoes.

Trail thru a local bird sanctuary.

Trail thru a local bird sanctuary.

And finally – does anyone know what these purple beauties are?  I see them blooming all over the place but have no clue what they are.

Who Am I?  24601!!

Who Am I?   24601!!

Those are my contributions!  I hope you enjoyed them!

A big thank you to Cee for sponsoring this challenge!  Please check out her blog, and also the other entries posted in her comments.

See you all next week!

Sue

I Got A Rock


The Jesus Rock - Shores of Lake Michigan near Bjorklunden

The Jesus Rock – Shores of Lake Michigan near Bjorklunden

Dave and I have an inside joke, that isn’t really all that “inside”. Based on the Peanuts Halloween episode, where everyone gets candy while trick or treating except poor Charlie Brown, who keeps getting rocks. I no longer remember the particulars, but something happened at home, and Dave’s response of “I got a rock” elicited giggles from our oldest chick. Her dad has been in love with her and her laugh since the day of her birth and so pretty much anything he says or does that makes her laugh is repeated until it becomes a family tradition.

Although this particular chick has fled the nest, the “I got a rock” tradition continues in our house. It pops up at odd moments – shopping, on our walks, vacationing, dinner, decorating for Christmas…

I Got A Rock

I Got A Rock

The thing is, we love getting rocks. I have a collection of them on my desk, we have various rocks brought home from vacations, and any trip to the beach has me bending over God’s glitter with curiosity and wonder.

Rocks are mysterious, beautiful, gentle, brooding, forceful.  They have a story to tell but they are slow to speak.  For me, being around rocks is like being around God – I have a sense of well being, warmth, and calmness.  In the rush of living, they remind me to slow down and take a breath.  Look around me.  Sit a spell.  It’s like I can hear God whispering to me in the warmth of the sun soaked stone.

It’s always interesting to see what people do with rocks.  Sometimes they polish them into jewelry.  Make tools out of them.  Carve out tunnels and drive thru them. Create masterpieces within them.  Bake with them.  Curb fire with them.  Build shelters from them.

"Look at that giant rock!  Let's drive a bus thru it!  Heck, yes!"

“Look at that giant rock! Let’s drive a bus thru it! Heck, yes!”

Mostly, I just like to touch them, especially those worn smooth by wind and wave.  Last time I went to Bayshore, I decided to rock pick with my camera instead of my hands – these specimens were a little large to fit in my pocket. Here are my favorites.

Playing with my shadow.

Playing with my shadow.

In the shallows

In the shallows

Mr. Stripey

Mr. Stripey

Rocks with big strips like this in them intrigue me.  I always wonder what was happening on earth during the making of that layer.

Rocks with big strips like this in them intrigue me. I always wonder what was happening on earth during the making of that layer.

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I love this one.  It looks like a brain.

I love this one. It looks like a brain.  No need to point out the weirdness of that statement.  I am fully aware.

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I love this one too - the color is so rich.

I love this one too – the color is so rich.

If you look closely, this one has a daddy long legs on it.  I usually hate spiders, but even I'm not freaked out by daddies.

If you look closely, this one has a daddy long legs on it. I usually hate spiders, but even I’m not freaked out by daddies.

This one makes me think of a whale.  Or a dinosaur skull.

This one makes me think of a whale. Or a dinosaur skull.

Love the color on this one too.  And how I managed to capture the water splashes.  Completely on accident, mind you.

Love the color on this one too. And how the water swirls around it.

I love how the water looks splashing over this one.  And of course, I caught this shot totally on purpose....

I love how the water bubbles over this one. And of course, I caught this shot totally on purpose….

This one reminds me of an ancient temple.  Or maybe the dutch windmill cookies my Grandma Conard used to always give us.

This one reminds me of an ancient temple. Or maybe the dutch windmill cookies my Grandma Conard used to always give us.

This one I just liked because of all the tiny dot things on it.  Sort of like worms but not in a gross way.

This one I just liked because of all the tiny dot things on it. Sort of like worms but not in a gross way.

This rock with the wound of exposed granite really caught my eye.  I took one picture dry, then wet it down with the rest of the water in my water bottle (which I regretted on the hot bike ride home).

This rock with the wound of exposed granite really caught my eye. I took one picture dry, then wet it down with the rest of the water in my water bottle (which I regretted on the hot bike ride home).

Here it is wet

Here it is wet

Extreme closeup!

Extreme closeup!

Last but not least...

Last but not least…

Besides awesome rock pictures, I got a bit of a sun burn that day too.  All in all, a wonderful afternoon.  I’ll be back next week with tales of Wisconsin Summer Survival!

Sue

Growing A Pair


A few weeks ago I posted about Super Powers – how we all have them. And we do. But every Super Power has it’s Kryptonite.

say-no-to-kryptonite

 

I am my own worst enemy. The cliche-ness of that statement does not make it any less true. Any dream or goal I have ever had has always had an obstacle. And that obstacle has always been me.

Me standing with a worried brow and wringing hands. With fear and self doubt babbling a litany of reasons for failure. Reasons to give up. Reasons to quit hoping.

You’re too old. You’re too fat. He won’t listen. She won’t learn. The damage can’t be undone. Others are better. Nothing matters so why try. You’ll starve. You’re spouse will leave. You’ll fall and break a hip.

Oh yeah, and then there’s the voices outside your head. From well meaning family, friends, church members, co-workers, acquaintances, the gas station cashier, the homeless guy on the corner…

Are you crazy? Have you lost your mind? That’s stupid. Why? You should do it this way. You should say that instead. You’re gonna get screwed. Look out for number one.

And if those voices aren’t enough to drive me screaming off a cliff, there’s also the voice of realism. Past experience. Knowing my own limitations. Bills that have to be paid. A spouse to consider. Family. Friends. A job. Commitments to others.

All of which must be considered, and “yes” to learning from past mistakes, too. But perhaps considered instead from the point of how they can propel me forward, not how they may hold me back.

So I have to grow a pair. I have to grow a pair so I can stand up to society, to family, to friends. But mostly, to myself.

I gotta tell ya. I took a baby step this weekend and it hurt like hell. Still does. I suspect it will for a long time, because I’m not stopping. I need this pair of spiritual balls or I’m going to stay stuck.

I know I’m on the right track, even if my first step wasn’t perfect. It was still a step. A beginning. A line in the sand. A line thru my heart.

And I’m sure that in this process, small victories will retract. Pull themselves back up into my spirit to hide and I will take a step or two backwards. Maybe even stumble and fall. I may have mascara running down my face, ripped panty hose, and a broken heel…haha- ok that’s not me. I’ll be the messy haired little kid with dirt streaked cheeks, skinned knees and snot running out of my nose.

Point is, I’m going to get my ass back up. I’m not quitting. I’m not going away. And I’m not backing down. So get ready Self. I’m not taking any of your shit anymore. There’s a new kid in town.

Don’t Fence Me In


Tonight I tried to take my cat for a walk.  We had limited success.  He was pretty happy until I wouldn’t let him sit in the weeds all night.  Then we had a bit of a tiff, which I won after several minutes of coaxing, pulling, cajoling, and hissing (him, not me).

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You might be wondering (most normal people would) why I was walking my cat, and the best explanation I can come up with is that we were both bored and we both wanted to be outside, even though I am currently covered in bug bites and smell like chemicals.  But that’s the point of tonight’s blog – I would rather swat mosquitoes and beer bugs than sit safely indoors.  For me, that’s the point of summer – to get outside and explore the world.  That would be Midnight’s point too, but he is not allowed unsupervised outdoor visits due to neighborhood garden pooping and baby bunny decapitating.

Do you think she can see me?  I don't think she can see me.

Do you think she can see me? I don’t think she can see me.

I have had several outings since my last photo blog.  I even took a break from sunsets to switch to wild flowers and waterfalls for a bit.  My traipsing around snapping photos has earned me 280 miles on my Cannondale and around 30 on my Townie – not a bad start, although I would like to finish up the season at 2000 overall.  We will see how ambitious I get, and who wins my weekends – the bike or the beach.  Of course, if I bought a Burley, I could throw my cooler and lawn chair in it, and bike TO the beach…hmmmmm…

My first pictures are not outdoor explorations.  My friend, Joe, the captain of our mTT (My Team Triumph) Bellin Team from last year came to my day job to rally the troops about mTT and tell his story (always worth repeating – you can read it here).  Any day I get to see Joe is a good day, and it’s wonderful to see him spreading his wings as the race ambassador for mTT.  If you are looking for an organization to add meaning and heart to your running, check them out and sign up to be an angel.  Life changing, I’m tellin’ ya.  DO.  IT.

Left Picture: From Left to Right - Grandma Marge, Mom Dee, Aunt Do-Do, Joe, Christian Jensen (Wisconsin mTT Director) and me. Right Picture:  Joe, myself and Christian.

Left Picture: From Left to Right – Joe’s Grandma Marge, Mom Dee, Aunt Do-Do (Doreen – my bestie so I get to make fun of her), Joe, Christian Jensen (Wisconsin mTT Director) and me.
Right Picture: Joe, myself and Christian.

My first excursion took me on a 25 mile circuit thru my ancestors old stomping grounds.  I purposely mapped my ride to run the entire length of Conard Road, because the dork in me found it exceedingly cool to ride down a road named after my ancestors, even if it’s just an old farm road.  It was also cool to find an ancestral  headstone in the local cemetery, although it seems to be one stone marking the very short lives of three children.  Two of them died within a couple of months of each other (April 1882 and May 1882 – if I am reading the stone correctly.  It’s a little worn so hard to tell), so now wondering if there was a local illness that year, and if so, what?  May have to have a little discussion with my dad on that one.

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As my ride continued, I noticed storm clouds in the distance, so had to hoof it a little, but I did take time to stop on Mary Road to grab some pictures of blooming wild flowers, including our beautiful state flower, the trillium.  I think the small yellow ones are marsh marigolds – notice how they are thriving right next to an old plastic bottle.  Gotta love man’s mark on this earth, and nature’s ability to thumb its nose back at us.  Does anyone know what the single yellow flower is?  Wild or accidental cultivation?

wildflowers

Incidentally, my mother tells me it is not illegal to pick trilliums – just illegal to dig them up and transplant them.  I’m not sure if she investigated this or if she is just covering her tracks from all her illegal trillium picking.  She’s a little shady, that one.

My next ride took me to Red River County Park, so named because of the color of the river that runs thru it, feeding into the Bay.  I’m not sure what causes it – it looks like iron to me, but my dad thought it might be from the clay in the earth or from the bark of local trees.  I tried to find something on the internet but Google failed me, so a trip to the library is in order.  I supposed I could randomly ask a local too, although the “weirdo factor” kicks in when sweaty strangers in spandex start asking questions.

Red River County Park, Wisconsin

Red River County Park, Wisconsin

Notice the shells?  When I first visited this park with my Grandma Conard way back in the day, this was all sand.  I swam in the river with a bunch of other kids – I was a little freaked out by the water, which is probably why I remember it so well.  The shells are from an invasive species called the zebra mussel.  These little buggers have taken over the Bay and many other local waters, and are causing ecological issues such as avian poisoning and smothering native clams and mussels due to the sheer number of them. My intention is not to start a dissertation as to why the zebra mussels are tiny evil crustaceans, especially seeing as we have so many other ecological issues going on that zebra mussels seem like they would be pretty far down the “should we be alarmed” list.

This picture shows two sides of the same tree at Red River, taken on the same day at the same time.  What a difference a little perspective makes.  Kinda like life.

yingyang

My next adventure involved a hike in the woods.  There is a bird preserve that has a trail used by birders and forestry students at the local college.  Dave and I heard about it thru his cousin Jeremy, and ventured down it a short bit back in April.  It was too wet then to continue, but I knew I wanted to come back and explore it.  Given the current bug population, Dave declined my invitation.  Apparently he is rather attached to his blood.

It was still a little wet – in fact it reminded me of some southern bayou.  It occurred to me that it would make a great place to hide a body and I started nervously looking around for the serial killer.  And giant hair Shelob spiders.  And bloody-muzzled slavering dire wolves.  Right about this time I scared up a deer and nearly wet my pants.  The beauty below is not imaginary, though.

Woods

Memorial weekend Dave and I visited Wequiock Falls, and then Matt and I returned this past Monday night.  The difference in foliage in a week is phenomenal, but so is the water volume.  Monday’s photos were taken after 2 days of heavy rain – the current was crazy.

FallsFalls2

This is just a pretty shot of the falls from when Dave and I went over Memorial.

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Saturday was spent lounging on the beach at Bayshore, which is primarily crushed zebra mussel shells and rock, but enjoyable anyway.  When I got too hot and was tired of dozing in the sun (although honestly, who ever gets tired of dozing in the sun?), I stone hopped along the larger shoreline rocks, occasionally dipping my feet in the Bay to cool off.  Notice the “peace” rock.

Bayshorebeach

The rest of these are more sunset pictures – some taken at Bayshore and some at the local boat landing.  I also experimented with the panorama function on my iPhone for the first time.  Turned out pretty cool, I think.  I also really like how the dock and the rocks have a pink hue from the setting sun, and how the one sunset has a cloud that looks like a giant space ship.  Oh, and a random flower picture thrown in for good measure.

I did enhance a few of these – the camera never seems to capture the vibrant colors as well as my eyeballs.  Hopefully I didn’t over do it!

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IMG_2281IMG_2285IMG_2287IMG_2256

IMG_2327IMG_2306IMG_2310IMG_2317IMG_2372IMG_2371

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Stay adventurous my friends!

Until next week,

Sue

What’s Your Super Power?


supermanLately I’ve been watching a lot of movies. Super hero movies to be exact.

Of course this gets my mind to thinking about super powers, and how cool it would be to have them. Like Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, I would like to strap on my cape and leap out the window to streak across the sky. This thought was swiftly followed by the realization that Calvin didn’t need to fly. He already had his super power – his imagination.

Stupendous Man

You see where I am going with this now. Predictable, yes. But still, we forget all too often about our own super powers, and I needed to remind myself of mine, so thought what the heck, let’s make this a group event.

Because everyone has a super power. Everyone. I know you have one. Maybe you don’t realize it yet. Maybe, like me, you take it for granted. Or don’t realize it’s value because it comes easy to you. Shouldn’t being special and unique and awesome take hard work and extra effort?

A couple of summers ago, I was out walking with my sister. We were talking about strengths and weaknesses (or something like that – who knows, memory is NOT my super power) and I mentioned that the only thing I was really good at was being a goofball. “Bringing joy to other people is a pretty neat thing to be able to do,” she pointed out.

What’s Your Super Power?

Understand how important you are, and how much worth you have, simply by being you. I don’t care if your super power is blowing bubbles. God doesn’t make “squibs”. (Harry Potter reference for you non-geeks – it’s a person with wizard parents who is born without magic). See what I’m sayin’ here? Stop pulling yourself down with the perceived idea that you have nothing to offer.

So what if you can’t fly, you can’t fight, you can’t crow? You’re a damn good lawyer, Peter Pan, and you can out-Pan Rufio. (Rufio-Rufio- RU-FI-OOOO!)

 

 

Is your mind faster than a speeding bullet? Is your tenacity stronger than a locomotive? Can your imagination leap tall buildings in a single bound?

What’s Your Super Power?

She turned off her computer, the story about a man who started a clean water campaign for an underprivileged community still circling her thoughts. How does one even think to start something like that, much less actually put it into motion, she wondered. She felt inspired and powerless at the same time. She wished she could do something like that, but it just seemed so overwhelming.

She looked in the mirror. She smiled. She was good at smiling. It didn’t seem like such a great tool for changing the world, though. It was just her, smiling in the mirror at herself, looking sort of like a weirdo.

She went outside, and smiled at the neighbor. Only he didn’t see her. He was working on his truck. Before she could feel disappointment, she noticed his son, shyly smiling back at her from behind his fingers. She covered her eyes, peeping out at him from between them, and grinned back at him. His dad looked up and noticed her, and then looked down and smiled at his son. There were three of them smiling now. She continued walking, the sound of little boy giggles tickling her ears.

What’s Your Super Power?

I’m not giving up. I’m not giving up. I’m not giving up. She said this with gritted teeth, her breath coming in fast, ragged edges that made her eyes water. Her power had been shut off, her son was crying in the heat, her stupid car wouldn’t start, and oh God – she missed Eric so much.

I’m not giving up. Do you hear me, God? I’m not. I’m not giving up. You just have to deal with me. I’m going to stay here, pounding on your fricken door until you do something. I’m. Not. Giving. Up.

What’s Your Super Power?

Jim’s phone buzzed in his pocket. It was a long day of ditch digging and he was butt-ass tired. He had just sat down to eat, his hands engulfing a juicy burger fresh off the grill. He set down the burger, licking the catchup and grease off his fingers while he fished out his phone.

“Hey, Ma,”, he said. Jim’s wife brought her plate to the table and sat down next to him, waiting for him to finish his conversation. Except she could tell he was getting agitated. His leg was nervously bouncing up and down and he was staring past her out the window, his brain working on over drive while he listened. By the time he hung up, she was already putting away the food.

“That was my mom. I gotta go help Gladys – her water heater blew and there’s water flying everywhere. No way she can afford a plumber,” he said, pulling his boots back on his aching feet, while sending mournful glances at his dinner. “Wanna ride along?”

“Sure. I’ll visit with your mom while you’re next door. Take your burger with you – I’ll drive,” she answered, kissing him on the cheek.

What’s Your Super Power?

Nate parked his car. He felt great. The hot girl from marketing had smiled at him twice this week, there was an awesome party at Ben’s later, and he had enough money left over from buying presents to go grab that cool pair of suede Nikes he saw at Pac Sun.

Christmas music floated past him while he traversed the mall, passing vendors with calendars, board games and candied almonds, ignoring their frantic tries to get his attention. He was on a mission.

As he passed the toy store, he saw the coolest damn remote control monster truck he had ever seen. When he was a kid, he had spent hours on his hands and knees playing with Matchbox cars and Tonka trucks, but he had especially loved his monster truck toys. His parents had even taken him to St. Louis to see the real Bigfoot. He still had the replica they bought him from the gift shop sitting on the shelf in his room.

Nate looked at the price tag. Whoa, seriously expensive. He was about to walk away when he saw the bin for Toys For Tots. He thought of his neighbor, a struggling single mom, and wondered if she had enough money to get a present for Mikey. That kid would wet his pants if he opened this up Christmas morning. He looked at the price tag again. Ah shit. He grabbed the box and walked up to the cashier.

Later, at Ben’s, one of his buddies asked him about his new shoes. “Dude, that’s all you could talk about all day at work – where are they?” Nate smiled, and said “Ah, you know. Just decided not to get them.”

What’s Your Super Power?

I know you have one.

It takes a village of super powers to create a world of change. The smallest gestures – a smile, helping a neighbor, a generous heart, a strong will – can have repercussions that enable someone else to fight past hardship, to have a better life, or even just to have a better day.

Recognize the value of you being you. You have the power to make the world a better place. Even if it’s only one smile at a time.